At the beginning of the war part of Apsley Mills was commandeered for government supplies and was later taken over by the Ministry of Munitions.
Trench mortar bombs and small shells were made at Nash Mills. Many women worked in the factories and the manager at Nash Mills noted that they did the preparatory work ‘just as efficiently as men’.
Owing to the volatile nature of the products munitions work was hazardous. In 1918 Samuel Beddall of Berkhamsted was awarded an O.B.E. for great bravery in a munitions factory explosion. On the 11 June 1918, the London Gazette reported that Beddall had ‘at great personal risk … twice entered a burning building room … and rescued three workers in spite of dense fumes’.